New HU vision on education and research presented during opening academic year

Credits: © 2022 Seth Carnill

After virtually opening the academic year twice due to COVID, this year, the HU physically celebrated the opening of its 2022/2023 academic year on 30 August. Hundreds of employees, involved students and regional partners gathered at the Beatrix Theatre in the Dutch city of Utrecht. “Collectivity, collaboration and sharing must also be our focus.”

The HU’s new, integrated vision of education and research, Together for the Future, was central to the annual opening. Based on that vision, how can we increase the quality of life and economic strength of the Utrecht region together with our partners? Various inspirational sessions were organised around this theme, including a session about the student journey – the path to more customisation and convenience for students – and one about collaboration from the perspective of the HU areas of expertise: digital together, healthy together, sustainable together and learning together. Examples of these areas of expertise were presented at the annual opening via HU Story productions.

A lot on their plate

Collaboration: this concept has a central place in the new vision of the HU. President of the Executive Board Jan Bogerd: “There is an awful lot going on in the world: climate change, the housing market, the labour market, the migration issue… I think that we, as a university of applied sciences, have an important role to play here.” In order to be able to take on that role, collaboration must be central to the HU. Collaboration between education, research and professional practice, across the boundaries of knowledge areas. That is the way forward, towards the future, according to Bogerd.

Anthropologist of the future

The future was also discussed with keynote speaker and 'anthropologist of the future' Roanne van Voorst. She advocates embracing new ideas and initiatives of young people on how to make the world a better place as much as possible. “Let’s find out more often what our students think and let’s be brave enough to break open the curriculum. Not everyone has to accept a new idea for it to have an impact. If the answer to the question ‘would it have been worse if we hadn't done anything’ is “yes”, there is hope and a need to facilitate and support this new idea. By showing students that hope has meaning, you help them both as a professional and as a human being.”

Prize for a special colleague

Traditionally, during the opening of the year, the HUgenotenprijs (HUguenots Price) is awarded to a lecturer, employee or student who has made a special contribution to the HU and to society. This time the honour went to Marlou de Kuiper, programme manager of the master’s degree programme Innovation in Care and Welfare. She received the prize from board member Tineke Zweed: “A colleague with a passion for the profession, for her sector, externally oriented and internally involved. A motivator of the connection between education, research and professional practice, innovative in thinking and acting. A valued member of our HU community, with a long and impactful track record at home and abroad.”

Energy as motivator

Finally, some of the guests went into more detail about the significance of the HU vision for the near future during a panel session. Michael de Kruijf of design agency Greenberry, HU practice partner: “The energy radiating from social issues is as a motivator for collaboration to us. It is the challenge to find a structure in this, since every issue may require a different form of collaboration.”

The new academic year was then ushered in with festive live music and raised glasses – together.

Seth Carnill Photography

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